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How Covid-19 has affected South African children?

by Staff Writer
15 Aug 2021 at 08:42hrs | Views
South African children
According to a UNICEF report, because of COVID-19, 40 percent of the children belonging to Eastern and South African countries are not in school anymore. Even before the pandemic hit the world, 37 million South African children were out of school. In addition to that, after COVID-19, 32 million children were out of school either due to COVID-19 closure or failure to return to school even after it reopened.

Even though it is under stable that the number of children who are out of school fluctuates due to a variety of reasons, the figure of 40 percent of children who are out of school is shocking. Lieke van de Wiel, UNICEF Deputy Regional Director for Eastern and South Africa in a statement while pointing out the figures has urged the governments of the region to make education a priority and to ensure that the schools are reopened and safe for the children. The step should be taken no only for the sake of the individual child but also after considering the fact that these children are the future of the communities and countries.

Current Status Of Schools In African Countries
Africa is currently battling with a new COVID-19 wave. Amidst this new wave, Botswana, Namibia, Uganda and Zambia have closed their respective schools again after reopening them. On the other hand, Zimbabwe has decided to extend the winter break and Mozambique and Rwanda have partially closed schools for the areas where the virus has hit the most. The status of whether a school is open or not in an African country is largely dependent on the regional impact of COVID-19.

Why Are African Children Dropping Out Of School?
In addition to COVID-19, there are many other contributing factors for the immense dropout from the children. A few of these factors include financial difficulties faced by the parents for paying different fees, child labour due to poverty, gender discrimination has increased the dropping rate of the girls along with issues of health facilities and challenges faced by differently-abled children. Few African children have access to the internet to support their online learning creatively through either online lessons or education games like Scrabble Word Finder and Words with Friends. However, the majority of the children do not have access to the internet and smartphones and laptops due to poverty.

Can Online Learning Replace Offline Learning In South Africa?
Wiel has noted that there is both short-term and long-term impact of school closures on the children. Even though online learning is helpful, it cannot replace the numerous benefits of offline learning that includes fun while learning and socializing with friends. It was further said that when a containment notice is passed, the schools should be the last to close and first to open. This suggestion has been by considering numerous pieces of evidence that have suggested that both children and schools are not the main cause for spreading the COVID-19 virus along with the fact that the impact of the virus on children is relatively low. Making education a priority in Africa is especially important because the continent is heading towards a learning catastrophe where many children are dropping out of schools for one reason or another and the situation is further aggravated due to the pandemic.

What Is The Vaccination Status In The Education Sector?
Many South African countries are getting ready to reopen the schools after taking the basic measures necessary to contain the virus. In a statement, Angie Motshekga, Minister of Basic Education has said that the education sector of the country has managed to successfully vaccinate 89 per cent of the population engaged in it. There was also an acceptance of the fact that serious disruptions have been caused by COVID-19 and not all things have taken place according to the plan but still, the government is confident that in the near future, the business will be back to normal. On the basis of this optimistic outlook, the school calendar has already been published for 2022. In addition to the disruption that has been caused by the pandemic, the protest which recently took place has ended up destroying and vandalizing 180 schools. This is seen as a serious setback as the damaged school infrastructure would need repairing and the entire sector is already under immense pressure.

Source - Byo24News